#23: Arctic Mobility

Power of ERDC

25-04-2023 • 45 min

We talk with Dr. Orian Welling and Mr. Michael Parker from ERDC’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory about how ERDC’s cold weather mobility expertise will directly help the U.S. military better protect and defend the Arctic. As the Arctic grows in strategic importance to the United States, the region also presents unique challenges to military mobility. Heavy duty tires designed for rugged terrains don’t handle as well on cold, slick surfaces. And ice and snow aren’t the only challenges facing military vehicles in Arctic environments. In fact, mobility becomes even more difficult during the spring months when frozen ground begins to thaw, and the terrain is transformed into a muddy, swampy quagmire. ERDC’s research is enabling better cold weather tires and leading to robust cross-country mobility models that can forecast ice thickness, snow depth and thaw, and predict which vehicles can perform where in Arctic conditions. ERDC is also providing knowledge and developing algorithms and systems that will allow autonomous manned and unmanned systems to navigate in cold regions. We talk with Orian and Mike about how their unique backgrounds contribute to this research (6:41, 30:16), why the Army needs to study Arctic mobility (4:13), the unique challenges of the spring thaw (34:47), and how the expertise of CRREL’s mobility team (8:57) and the laboratory’s world-class specialized facilities (11:27) enable this capability. We also discuss specific projects, such as work on winter tires (16:54), mobility models (25:56) and cold weather autonomy (21:21). And we talk about how the effort benefits from ERDC’s cross-disciplinary research (38:07), as well as from partnerships and international collaboration (40:34). Visit https://www.PowerofERDCPodcast.org for more information.

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